Listen to the Mockingbird
Every good mystery begins with a murder, and Penny Rudolph’s Listen to the Mockingbird doesn’t disappoint: a young stranger is gunned down on Matty Summerhayes’ horse ranch, forever changing the path of her life just as she’s decided to sell and move away from the New Mexico territory. Matty’s future depends on the significance of the crude map she finds in the dead man’s pocket. Will it lead to treasure on her land?
Being 1861, the murder is soon followed by the occupation of the nearby town of Mesilla by Texans on behalf of the Confederacy. Later a handsome stranger – a defrocked priest called Tonio Bernini – exacts Matty’s permission to live temporarily in a cave on her land. And Matty’s own mysterious past begins to catch up with her when her friend Winona, a former slave, comes back into her life.
Matty’s past, present and future coalesce to create a compelling tale. While her ability to find unconventional solutions to problems that would otherwise be insoluble might push the bounds of believability for her time in history, the character makes an outstanding impromptu detective. I highly recommend this book.